Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Fiji set to become next stop for NRL

Fiji is eyed as the next stop for the NRL, with plans in motion to take a premiership game to the Pacific nation.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, expansion is on the governing body’s agenda after successfully staging a double-header at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium.

It marked the first time that premiership points were contested anywhere outside of Australia or New Zealand.

There is likely to be another new global destination for NRL matches from next year, with Melbourne keen to take a home competition fixture to Fiji.

Melbourne Storm

The Storm played their pre-season clash against Newcastle in Lautoka, a move that helped them secure a partnership with Fiji Airways.

The club is now in talks with the NRL for a premiership game to be staged in 2025, most likely in the capital, Suva.

“If you look at Fiji now as an opportunity for a premiership game, everything is there now for the NRL and for the clubs to seriously consider for 2025,” Storm CEO Justin Rodski told the Herald.

Melbourne Storm vs Newcastle Knights3

“We saw first-hand the impact it had on the community, the engagement from the community, attendance at the game, the love of rugby league.

“Obviously, rugby union is still the No.1 sport in Fiji, but rugby league’s growing. From us being there and having a presence, I think that this is just the start of something pretty special for what could be a long-term play for the NRL in the Pacific.

“More than 50 per cent of the competitions are from Pacific Island nations. So we’d be silly not to continue to invest in going to those regions, having an impact with the community and also bringing games there because that is the most important thing.”

Newcastle Knights3

The NRL has been pushing for more content in the Pacific and is seriously considering granting a franchise license to Papua New Guinea.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has also supported the Storm’s plans.

“That is something we will work with the clubs on and our broadcast partners and look to see how we can continue to grow the game,” he said.

“You’ve got to take premiership matches to your markets if you want to win new fans.”

The Storm feel the ideal slot in the calendar would be during the lead-up to State of Origin III in July, when the temperature in Fiji was cooler.

Newcastle Knights4

“Those home-and-away games during Origin can become a little bit dull,” Rodski said.

“It almost creates a little bit of excitement in the season in that dull period between Origin three and finals.

“You’re going to play a game in Fiji, it’s pretty exciting.”

Former Fijian international Petero Civoniceva, a hero in his homeland, supported the concept.

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“That would be amazing,” Civoniceva said. “(ARLC chief executive) Peter V’landys has spoken about the ability of our game to capture new audiences and there is an audience in Fiji.

“So it’s really exciting to have a game over there.”

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com


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